WNBL Rd 14 Recap: Fight for finals heats up

Things are very much heating up ahead of the end of regular season, as teams from both ends of the ladder continue to scrap for wins and get the best possible position heading into finals. There were a couple of huge performances this round, including a triple double, career high and a team's first on the road win of the season.


For the meantime, the Bendigo Spirit have managed to hold onto their top four spot, but only just. The Spirit were zero from two in round 14, while the Perth Lynx split the weekend, beating Adelaide Lightning, but losing to the Southside Flyers. This means that the Spirit sit at fourth while the Lynx are one win behind in fifth on the ladder. The Spirit have lost their last four games and don't have it much easier over the next two rounds, the Lynx having the advantageous fixture. It is the Lynx's lack of consistency that is letting them down though, when their outside shots aren't going in, they struggle to find an alternative way to score. When playing against strong offensive teams - like the Flyers - they can find themselves quickly falling behind.


The WNBL saw their second triple double of the season this round, thanks to a dominant performance from Jade Melbourne. She continues to improve and play with unmatched energy. However, Melbourne's 19 points, 12 rebounds and 14 assists were not enough to get her team over the line, the UC Capitals falling just short to the Lightning. It was a close game, but in the second quarter the Caps burst out and managed to hold a small lead for the rest of the game. This was thanks to no other than Steph Talbot, who got a quick eight points in the second quarter and allowed her team to catch up and gain some momentum. But it was a different player who put her Lightning team on her back, producing a 27-point performance, Marena Whittle had the hot hand and was a huge part of this revenge win over the Caps. Although neither of these teams have a chance at making finals, it is great to see the tenacity and thirst to win still prominent from both teams. This was an extra special win for the Lightning - not only was it their first away win of the season, but it was great that they could get the win in Indigenous round for their indigenous player Abby Cubillo. She got a well-earned start, taking the spot from injured player Isabel Borlase and she certainly didn't look out of place.


The Townsville fire secured two wins this round, both against top four teams. Sitting atop of the ladder, the Fire continued their winning streak, having now won their last 9 games. Despite battling injuries and having to play without two of their stars, week in week out they have found a way to acquire the dub. The introduction of Shyla Heal has helped, she offers another scoring threat and can be a backup point guard for Steph Reid. But it's the continuous improvement of both Karlie Samuelson and Courtney Woods that has really taken the Fire's output to another level. With Reid, Heal, Samuelson, Woods, Lauren Nicholson, Tianna Hawkins, and Mikaela Ruef all capable of lighting it up on the offensive end, opposition teams are struggling to find a way to prevent the Fire from getting ahead. Hawkins was a particular stand out in their second game of the round, scoring 32 points at 75%.